Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin among the highlights of the rock photo exhibition


Michael friedman had not planned to see the Rolling Stones that night of 1969.

And yet he was there with his camera and pass about 10 feet from Mick Jagger at the side of the stage with the friend he had accompanied to Madison Square Garden, Janis Joplin, roll after roll of the Stones in their prime.

“I got a call from Janis,” Friedman says.

“She said, ‘The Stones are playing at Madison Square Garden. I have no one to go with. Will you take me?'”

Joplin was especially excited to see Ike and Tina Turner, the forerunners.

“Tina was one of his heroes,” Friedman says. “And when Tina Turner saw her backstage, she called her on stage and Janis went up and sang a song with her. “

Discovering the “Lost negatives of rock & roll”

These are the kind of memories that came back when Friedman’s wife unearthed a box of negatives her husband had never developed, most of them taken in the golden years of 1969 to 1973.

“I took thousands of photos and never really got around to printing them because I was so busy,” says Friedman.

“So I put them away and managed to lose track of them for 50 years until my wife, Donna, walked into my office, put that thick envelope on the table and said, ‘You’ll never guess. what I just found. ‘”

What she found was the Rock & roll negativesbecause the traveling photo exhibit now heading to the gallery at the FOUND: RE hotel in Phoenix has been charged.

In addition to the Stones at the Garden, it features candid photos of Joplin, Kris Kristofferson with Rita Coolidge, the Band, Todd Rundgren and other legends that Friedman has managed to befriend and photograph as a much more man. young.

“This is my luck Forrest Gump,” Friedman laughs. “My wife calls it that because I kind of just ran into these amazing and lucky opportunities.”

Stumble in the music business

It was in his twenties that he worked with publicist and music manager John Kurland, whose clients included the Bee Gees, Herman’s Hermits, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Glen Campbell and Rundgren’s band Nazz.

He had been a drummer in high school and college, riding the wave of the British invasion by calling a band Randy Buckingham and the Palace Guards.

At the University of Arizona, he and his friends traveled from Tucson to Los Angeles on weekends to record. He and a friend even started a label, Coastline Records, and had a record cover and released by Warner Bros.

“I really wasn’t good enough, in my mind, to be a professional musician,” Friedman says. “But I wanted to be part of the scene.”

The work with Kurland, for which Friedman moved to New York, was a solid first step in the right direction.

Kurland’s unexpected death opened up another opportunity when a publicist friend suggested he contact Albert Grossman, a legendary manager whose clients included Joplin, the band, and Bob Dylan.

“Grossman was the greatest manager, I think, in the history of music,” Friedman says.

“My friend called and told me that Albert was looking for someone to help him in his New York office because he was spending more time in his house in Woodstock. Was I interested? was interested. “

He even brought Grossman a new client, Rundgren.

“I was a kind of fly on the wall”

For the next three years he worked for Grossman, managing artists while exploring his passion for musical photography.

“It just seemed like the loop was recording moments with the artists, whether it was backstage or live or just hanging out, because I was the same age as the artists I was conducting, so we were friends, ”he said. said.

“I was part of their team. So I had this unusual access that was very laid back and laid back. I was kind of a fly on the wall. I just had my camera and I was taking these pictures.”

Luckily, his time as a fly on the wall was at a time that Greg Harris, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, refers to “an important flashpoint in the history of the music”.

Or what Friedman calls “the sweet spot”.

Not that he can see it from what he calls his “front row seat” of the cultural revolution that surrounds him.

“We were all children back then”

He was just taking pictures of his friends because, as Friedman says, “I loved photography and I loved what I was doing and the people I was working with.

He didn’t really have a perspective, says Friedman, “until we started looking at these photos and realized that not only was I able to work with amazing people, but the access that I had. made a difference in the type of photographs I took. “

But it wasn’t just the access Friedman had. They were simpler times.

“When you look at the photos of the Stones at the Garden, the kids are all up against the stage like it’s a YMCA,” Friedman said.

“These girls are climbing to get to Jagger and they had four road managers who were just dragging the girls off the stage. Nowadays you couldn’t get within 50 feet of the Madison Square Garden stage. But the world was smaller then. “

Once Friedman saw what he had in that old box of negatives, he set to work restoring and ultimately exhibiting those candid moments.

“I had long thought they were gone forever,” Friedman says.

It was a bittersweet experience seeing the photos he took of those legends that made up so much of his life.

“We were all kids back then,” he says.

“Janis and I were three months apart and almost everyone I worked with was the same age. So it was like seeing old friends. And some of the memories were bittersweet because a lot of those people are gone and have been for a long time. “

It also made him think of how lucky he was to have these special memories of a Janis Joplin or a Levon Helm.

“It gave me a new appreciation for the kind of life I was leading,” Friedman says.

Does he still take pictures, however?

Many people have asked him if he always takes pictures, he says.

The short answer is no.

“I think what happened was the connection between music and photography, that was my niche,” he says.

“That’s where my inspiration came from. And it didn’t seem to last outside of that. When I left the company in the 80s and moved on, I didn’t never really wanted to do it. “

He is, however, proud of the moments he managed to capture back then, especially now that he can share them with the world.

A four-month exhibition at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica in 2018 led to a year-long exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland.

Today, 80 of his favorite prints are heading to FOUND: RE, where the Men’s Arts Council of Phoenix will host an event called “The Lost Negatives of Rock & Roll Phoenix Art Museum”.

Being in the right place at the right time

Most of the photos are from 1969.

“This seems like the year I was really hooked up,” Friedman says.

“And 69 was kind of the pivotal time of this whole period of music in this country. It was the year of Woodstock. The year of everything. There was so much going on. I had a lot of. chance to be in the right place at the right time. “

A preview on Friday, November 19 will be a paid event to benefit the Phoenix Art Museum. Admission is free this Saturday and Sunday.

Prints will be available for purchase every three days to benefit the Phoenix Art Museum.

There’s also a book in the works that Friedman says is due for release in the spring – part tabletop, part memoir.

“It’s really exciting and incredibly fun to go through this at this point in life,” Friedman said.

“I didn’t expect to be so busy or so entertained. Everyone else I know is relaxing and retiring. I’m on the road.”

“Lost negatives of rock & roll”

When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 19; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, November 20; 10 am-6pm Sunday November 21.

Or: The FOUND: RE Hotel, 1100 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.

Admission: $ 125 for the artist’s talk and conversation on Friday; free and open to the public on Saturday and Sunday.

Details: 602-875-8000, mensartscouncil.com/lost-negatives-of-rock-roll/.

Beyond the Gridiron: Tolleson

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Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.

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